There are many contentious debates in the food world: How to cut a grilled cheese, whether a hot dog is a sandwich, and so on. But the one that piques my interest the most is this: What constitutes a dumpling? When I think of the word, my mind jumps to dim sum. It conjures up visions of steaming baskets filled with xiao long bao and shrimp shumai. But really, what’s the big difference between wontons and pierogi, aside from a few ingredients? I would like to make the case that any food involving a filling fully encased by dough can be considered a dumpling. Does this mean pizza rolls are part of the club? I guess!
Regardless of whether you’re on board with my argument, I think you’ll agree that stuffed foods are some of the most delicious out there. From empanadas to ravioli, there’s a dough-and-filling combination for everyone. Here are our favorites from the Recipe Finder.
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, above. Don’t break out the pasta machine just yet — these ravioli use wonton wrappers to envelop pillows of spinach and ricotta. Hints of nutmeg and sage make this a wonderfully warming meal for fall and winter.
Pork and Green Bean Empanadas. These empanadas from chef Stephanie Izard are umami flavor bombs, thanks to the unconventional additions of anchovies and parmesan. Using frozen pie dough is also a great, low-lift strategy to cut down on active cooking time.
Ukrainian Pierogi. Variations of dumplings stuffed with potato, cheese and more can be found all over Eastern Europe. This iteration comes from Ukraine, where they’re also known as vareniki. Serve them freshly boiled, pan-fried in oil, or tossed with butter and onion. But whatever you do, make sure there’s a big dollop of sour cream involved.
Mushroom Dumplings. Get homemade dumplings in under an hour with this pantry-friendly dish. Canned mushrooms add meatiness and umami, while store-bought dumpling wrappers are a convenient shortcut.
Aushak (Afghan Leek Dumplings With Yogurt and Meat Sauce). Rather than a filling, the savory, meaty mixture in this recipe for Afghan dumplings serves as a sauce. The dumplings are instead stuffed with leeks, cooked slowly with just salt and pepper. Yogurt sauce rounds out the dish, adding a delightful tang.
Beginner’s Baked Bao With Pulled Pork. When food writer and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen was trying to use up frozen roll dough, she realized it was a great substitute for homemade bao dough. These strike a delicate balance between sweet and savory.
Tortellini Vegetable Soup. While we wish we had the time to whip up tortellini from scratch on any old weeknight, sometimes we need a little bit of a helping hand. This soup takes advantage of store-bought tortellini that floats in a golden broth filled with a wholesome mix of celery, carrot, zucchini and tomato.